This winter, Vintage is hoping at least one of its books will be judged by its cover. Beating out Bantam Books and Signet, the prestigious paperback company won the tie-in rights to director Claude Chabrol’s movie version of Madame Bovary, starring Isabelle Huppert, scheduled to be released in the U.S. this Christmas by Samuel Goldwyn. That means the movie poster, featuring Huppert’s face, will grace the cover of a special Vintage edition of Bovary.
Promotional tie-ins are nothing new, but this time Goldwyn asked bidding publishers to cough up $35,000 for the cover art and promotion commitment — about five to 10 times more than the average. Because Gustave Flaubert’s 19th-century French masterpiece is in the public domain, says Ziggy Kozlowski, Goldwyn’s manager of field operations, ”We were in a unique position to receive bids from (three) publishers. So you go in there with your dream number.” While she wouldn’t disclose the figure, Vintage editor Jenna Laslocky said that her company acquired the rights for a lot less than Goldwyn’s asking price.
The cost of the tie-in will jack up the price of the paperback to $10; by contrast, the Penguin Classics edition goes for only $3.50. Laslocky says that if the movie is a success, Vintage could sell as many as four times the number of Bovaries, despite the higher price, it would have sold without the Huppert hype.